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Tag: Duke Roufus

Duke Roufus Responds to Team Members’ Abuse Allegations: “Things Have Changed”


(MMA H.E.A.T’s Karyn Bryant talks with Rose Namajunas, Pat Barry, and former Roufusport training partner L-Dogg.) 

The death of kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr. in March was a horrific, completely avoidable tragedy, and one that has spurned several former students of Duke Roufus to speak out against the allegedly abusive and negligent training methods employed by the Roufusport fight club. Chief among the dissenters has been TUF 20 contestant Rose Namajunas, a Milwaukee native and former UFC fighter Eric Schafer, who referred to Roufus as “one of the worst people I have ever met” on a recent UG post in support of Rose. The hard numbers haven’t helped either — Roufusport was recently determined to be the most injury-prone camp in MMA, with fighters withdrawing due to injury in 16.6% of their scheduled fights.

But so it goes, there are always two sides to a story. In an interview with MMAJunkie last night, Roufus — along with former UFC/Roufusport fighter Danny Downes — responded to Namajunas’ allegations.

You know, when I see Rose and (former UFC fighter) Pat Barry, they don’t seem disgruntled. They’re very nice to me. Pat asked me advice at the last Glory (kickboxing) event. Rose came and trained at our gym in spring. Eric Schafer, I know we’ve had some issues. I’ve tried to reach out ever since he left Roufusport, and he didn’t want to ever sit down and chat with me. It’s tough.

I think they left in 2010. It’s 2014. If you look at the results of what the kids are doing right now, and just the evolution of MMA, things have changed. Back then, I don’t think we embraced strength and conditioning as much. We were trying to spar ourselves into shape. My philosophy now, four short years later, is completely opposite of that.

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Rose Namajunas Speaks Out Against Roufusport’s Abusive Coaching Methods Following the Death of Kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr.


(Video via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

On Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a long, must-read feature on the death of Dennis Munson Jr., who collapsed and died following his kickboxing debut in Milwaukee in March 28th. The article sheds light on the “cascade of errors by fight officials” during the match, including a lack of regulatory oversight, an inept ringside physician — who was busy staring at his phone while Munson was showing signs of physical distress — and the use of same-day weigh-ins as an apparent cost-saving measure.

The person who arguably comes off looking the worst is Roufusport striking coach Scott Cushman, who cornered Munson that night and could be seen physically propping the fighter up between the second and third rounds, sending him back into battle despite the obvious red flags that Munson was in no shape to continue (You may recognize Cushman as the burly, bearded assistant coach for Team Pettis on TUF 20.) It’s difficult to watch, but footage of the entire fight and Munson’s collapse is above. As the video explains, the footage originally submitted to police by Roufusport was missing 32 seconds showing Munson’s actual collapse. The restored footage shows Cushman slapping Munson and holding him upright for a while until the fighter dropped to the canvas. Munson was pronounced dead later than night.

According to the MJS article, “The state says it has no authority to investigate the death or the actions of those in charge that night because it was an unregulated event,” which has only compounded the tragedy for Munson’s family. But yesterday, UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas — who formerly trained at Roufusport — spoke out with a series of social media posts, blasting Roufusport’s abusive coaching methods, and the gym’s hostile environment in which experienced fighters were regularly encouraged to beat up newbies, and coaches physically brutalized female students.


(via Rose’s instagram)

“Crazy that I finally speak out against the people that are responsible for this tragedy and now other people are coming out too it’s sad it takes someone’s life to bring awareness,” Namajunas wrote on Squor. She then passed along several stories of terrible experiences that former students have had at Roufusport, which we’ve reprinted below…

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Interview: Duke Roufus Discusses GLORY, The Pettis Brothers, And the Chaotic Art of Striking


(Roufus [at far left] with Sergio Pettis, Anthony Pettis, Ben Askren, and Roufusport BJJ coach Daniel Wanderley. Photo via Dave Mandel/Sherdog.)

By Elias Cepeda

Duke Roufus had an illustrious career as a kickboxer before becoming even more well-known as an MMA coach. In recent years, his highly regarded Roufusport camp has produced such talents as UFC champion Anthony Pettis, his younger brother Sergio, and former Bellator champ Ben Askren. In advance of the Glory 13 event in Tokyo this Saturday that Roufus is doing color commentary for, CagePotato sat down with him to look back on the twists and turns of his career, and look towards the future of some of his biggest stars.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: What would you say your role with Glory is, Duke? We hear and see you doing color commentary during events but when you were in Chicago last fall, you also had a big presence in all sorts of other pre-event activities.

DUKE ROUFUS: Well, about ten years ago they had me do color commentary for K-1 on pay-per-view broadcasts. This was really a natural progression when they came back with Glory. My role is that of a color commentator but I’m also just a huge kickboxing enthusiast. I love the sport. I’m just as big a fan as a participant.

We’ve always heard Joe Rogan talk about “K-1 level striking” in certain UFC fighters — meaning that a particular guy had great striking, so much so that he could survive in K-1, which was recognized as the top kickboxing promotion in the world. Has Glory replaced K-1 in that role?

Yeah, for sure. K-1 just struggled internally. Japanese kickboxing and MMA have had some internal issues. The guys from Glory have really stepped up. They are also huge kickboxing enthusiasts. Now, all the best fighters are fighting for Glory. We also did something similar to what MMA did with unified rules, and we’ve tried to set that up for kickboxing. We want to make it a fan-friendly fight. The fans can really tune in and enjoy the fights. We created a rule set that makes it fun for the fan.

As an expert kickboxer and one who knows Muay Thai so well, don’t you think that the Glory rules could be better, though? You have many fighters who have trained and competed under full Muay Thai rules — using elbows, using the clinch, using sweeps — and now they get to this point and they’re not allowed to use these effective weapons.

Well, with those things allowed, the tournaments would have a different outcome, that’s for sure. There would be more cuts from elbows and so more guys wouldn’t be able to move on in the tournament. And clinching is how you defend not getting elbowed.

The uneducated fan boos when the clinch happens. Uneducated MMA fans do the same thing when Jiu Jitsu happens in a fight. I understand clinching and the art of it. I understand trips and dumps. Unfortunately here in America, people want to see big punches and big kicks. It can be difficult to understand Muay Thai. Even the scoring is a little difficult to follow. Kickboxing is very similar to boxing. That makes it easy to follow.

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Pettis, Koch & More to Have Motivational Speaker in Their Corners at UFC on FOX 6

Vitor Belfort isn’t the only life coach in MMA anymore. Eric Thomas, the motivational speaker whose words are behind videos like this, has been working with Roufusport fighters and will even be backstage with Anthony Pettis, Erik Koch, and Pascal Krauss tonight as they prepare to fight at UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago.

“Eric was so excited to work with our athletes that he decided to come in of his own accord and speak to our guys on the day of their fights. So he’ll be backstage with them, getting them mentally ready to put on the best show they can. It’s going to be awesome,” head coach Duke Roufus says.

“Eric is a huge influence in my life, and has been a daily motivation to me.”

Thomas recently went to Milwaukee to get Duke Roufus’ boys (check out video of the talk above) all wound up. We suppose the idea that “when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, you will succeed,” that Thomas preaches has a more literal-than-usual meaning and application for pro fighters, so the pairing makes sense.

What we’re wondering, though, is how much motivational shouting fighters can take back stage. Burt Watson may not take kindly to having to share platitude air space with another guy. We’ll keep you apprised of any beef that may or may not develop tonight backstage at UFC on Fox 6.

- Elias Cepeda

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Technique Video of the Day: Kick Like Duke Roufus (in Theory)


VidProps: WorldMartialArts/YouTube

Duke Roufus knows a thing or two about kicking. Also about punching. Oh, and knees and elbows, too.

Hmmm. Let’s start over…

Duke Roufus knows a thing or two about striking, and since his retirement from kickboxing competition, he’s passed along his knowledge to fighters from the Roufusport Martial Arts Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pat Barry, Danny Downes, Matt Mitrione, Anthony Pettis (and his little bro Sergio), Alan Belcher, Ben Askren, and Eric Koch (and more) have all spent time with Duke sharpening their stand up skills, and Roufus has been credited with pushing innovation in MMA striking. Belcher’s cage-spring superman punch and Pettis’ Showtime Kick were both attributed to training with Roufus, because they apparently practice that kind of crazy stuff over there.

But we must remember the words of Mr Miyagi: “first learn stand, then learn fly.”

Watch this video of Roufus breaking down technique for Thai-style low kicks. Watch it twice, then go find a bamboo tree. Kick that bamboo tree until it falls. You’re now halfway to being a Roufusninja, and don’t leave us comments about how bamboo is technically grass. That’s bullshit. No one ever became a ninja by kicking grass; that’s clearly a moronic idea. You think Tony Jaa took a level in badass by kicking over blades of grass? Absolutely not. He kicked down trees and made friends with elephants.

As far as we know, Duke Roufus does not have an elephant friends. What he does have is this video of kicking technique, and you need to quit arguing and watch it.

[RX]

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Sergio Pettis: The Future is Now


(Sergio flanked by biggest supporters: his oldest brother Rey, Anthony and their mom.)

Although you likely haven’t heard the name Sergio Pettis yet, the surname is a familiar one thanks to his older brother Anthony, who introduced the Pettis pedigree to the MMA masses fans with his underdog WEC lightweight championship win over Ben Henderson. His breakout performance was capped off by a highlight reel kick that fans and pundits alike are still talking about.

Sergio is Anthony’s younger brother, who shares not only his older brother’s passion for the sport, but also his innate fighting abilities. Dubbed “Phenom” by his Roufusport teammates, Sergio, who at 17 sports a 4-0 amateur tally, is set to make his professional debut September 9 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada under the Canadian Fighting Championships banner.

He credits Roufusport head Duke Roufus and his brother for helping mould him into the fighter he’s become, but says his goals are simply to keep winning and to hopefully one day follow in Anthony’s footsteps and make it to the UFC. Although that may seem like a lofty aim, for a teenager who abstained from partying and pigging out like most teenagers partake in, in favor of rolling and sparring in the hopes that he would one day reach his goal, it would be more of a surprise to see him not get there.

We spoke with Sergio recently and touched on a number of topics from why he got into fighting to if he ever claimed to be the inventor of the Showtime Kick.

Check out what Sergio had to say after the jump.

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Exclusive Interview: Roufusport Head Coach Jeff “Duke” Roufus [UPDATED]

By Jason Moles

CagePotato recently spoke with the former five-time Super Heavyweight kickboxing champion and current head coach/trainer at Roufusport in Milwaukee. We discussed his beginnings in combat sports, his take on UFC superfights, the upcoming Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida matchup, and what he really thinks about Dana White asking teammates to fight each other. Check it out after the jump.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us at CagePotato. For those who may not be aware, can you tell us how you got started in martial arts?

Duke Roufus: I started when I was four years old at my dad’s martial arts school. I started doing tournaments when I was six. Then we evolved into kickboxing and muay thai. Basically, I’ve been involved in every gamut of combat sports, and I guess the rest is just history. I worked my first UFC corner at UFC 26 and since 2005 I’ve been actively cornering guys; Ben Rothwell and Stephan Bonner were some of my original guys.

Speaking of big names, how do you manage all of the egos at Roufusport?

There are no egos, that’s the key. Sure, we’ve got a lot of really decorated guys here; Ben Askren’s joined us, but everyone checks their egos at the door. It’s just a bunch of guys doing work who want to get better.

You mentioned Ben Askren, Bellator’s Welterweight champion. Has he rubbed anyone the wrong way yet?

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